Tahrir Square protests: ‘For everyone here, there’s no turning back

‘Booker prize-nominated author of The Map of Love says Egypt’s anti-government protesters are proud of what they have done

by Ahdaf Soueif, Tahrir Square
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 February 2011

A great cry goes up from the square: “Irhal! Irhal!” (Leave! Leave!) Everybody is looking in the same direction. You follow their gaze to see a long banner unfurling, falling gracefully from the sixth-floor balcony of an art deco building. We read: “Do us a favour: leave!” Holding it from the balcony is a young woman with big hair. She is jumping up and down and holding up her hand in a victory salute. The crowd salute back: “Irhal! Irhal!”

Four generations, more than a million people (according to the army count at 2pm) are here. They are all doing what they have not been able to do for decades; each and every one is having their say in their own way and insisting on being counted. Their dominant demand, of course, is for Mubarak to step down.

In the regime’s response to this people’s revolution they have displayed the same brutality, dullness, dishonesty and predictability that have characterised their 30-year rule. They have shot and gassed their citizens, lied to them and about them, threatened them with F16s, tried to foist a “new” cabinet on them – everything except the decent thing: go.

Meanwhile the citizens on the ground have come into their own. Tahrir is about dignity and image as much as it is about the economy and corruption. People are acutely aware of how much their government has messed with their heads, worked to divide them, maligned them to the world. “She says we only care about a slice of bread,” a young labourer says, “We care about bread. But we also care about pride.” A bearded man with a wife in a niqab says: “We’re all Egyptian. Was I born with a beard?” He grins: “When Mubarak leaves I’ll be able to afford a razor!”

Together, in the square, over the last four days, people have rediscovered how much they like themselves and each other and, corny as it may sound, how “good” they are. They offer each other water, dates, biscuits. Young men are constantly collecting the litter. I sneeze and someone passes me a tissue. And all the time the chant continues, the demands are articulated, options for the future are discussed.

It is not possible to say what will happen next. Everything is up in the air, our communications are still cut (but you can still follow us online). Mubarak has said he will leave but more than two million of us are occupying the main squares of Cairo and a further two to three million are occupying other Egyptian cities. For every person in this revolution there is no turning back.

Tanks surround Tahrir Square but the army has declared it will never attack the people. Young Egyptians surround the tanks, chatting with the soldiers. Last night there was a football game – “the people versus the army” – with a tank as the prize. The people won. They did not get the tank. But then one of the most popular chants in Tahrir today is: “The people, the army as one hand”.

I would not have thought a scenario possible where we welcome military intervention but the Egyptian army is very much part of the fabric of Egyptian society. And in both 1977 and 1985 it refused direct orders to fire on Egyptian demonstrators. An oath taken by every soldier is that he will not shoot Egyptians. So at the moment the army is securing for us this space in our country where we are carrying out our peaceful, democratic, young, inclusive, open-source, grassroots revolution.

I write this sitting on the grass under a variety of banners. A bank of loudspeakers has gone up at one end of the square and we are waiting for a concert by the popular band Eskenderdella. We are all happy and we are proud to be here.

Ahdaf Soueif is the author of the Booker prize-nominated novel The Map of Love. She lives in Cairo and London

  1. #1 by cemerlang on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 9:14 am

    Where is Moses ?

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 9:28 am

    Curiously there are two threads this week alone on Egypt in this Opposition blog. As the rest of the world wonder, so YB Kit is inviting us – including the Opposition politicians but especially the ruling elites to similarly ask “What does this mean for us?

    I take it that Lord Acton’s aphorism – power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely – is a truism world wide where political elites in power tend to perpetuate power and its abuse unless otherwise checked and removed by their people. Also elections & the ballot box are traditionally used to legitimize the people’s consent & mandate for their elected officials to rule in the name of democracy. (That’s why we pressure Myanmar junta to have free elections and honour their results).

    What happened in Tunisia & Egypt is that the ballot box is not necessary equal to good governance.

    Tunisia held elections recently in October 2009 which an African Union observer mission declared the elections “free and fair. Voter turn out was recorded at 89.4%. President Ben Ali scored an overwhelming 89.6% victory. Egypt too held parliamentary elections in November last year. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party won 95% of the seats. In 2005, he had won the presidential elections by 88.6%!

    However both Egypt and Tunisia have high educational enrolment level but a significant unemployment of their many graduates. Extending education to many is good, but not enough; unless they find employment. They are also the techno savvy generation of information and communication technology (ICT). When they protest in the streets whether in Cairo, Jakarta, Manila or Bangkok it is the cell phones The Internet, cellphones, Facebook, MySpace, and other social sites, and all kinds of media devices to mobilise people to remove unsatisfactory leaders. It is so potent that they don’t even need one galvanising leader to be present all the time. Egyptian Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei arrived to speak to supporters in Tahrir Square only much later after opposition formed around that square.
    It is hard to imagine these developments elsewhere can readily happen here where the incumbent govt dos not even enjoy Tunisian govt’s 89.4% or Mobarak’s 95% electoral support. (Indeed here the ruling coalition lost in 2008 5 states including 2 of the richest and parliamentary 2/3 majority).
    Opposition will think why can’t it happen here since the prospect of it winning via ballot box is challenging and not exactly promising by virtue of 2 factors: (1) the political savvies of BN’s elites to maintain power by hook or by crook and (2) the problems of Opposition uniting itself when it needs PKR as a glue to unite disparate ideologies of DAP & PAS but PKR is fragmenting, a lot of which is due to Anwar’s failure of leadership in playing favourites to Amin for reasons that only he knows best and which I do not wish to speculate publicly.

  3. #3 by Dipoh Bous on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 9:33 am

    …pray, good malaysians, that we don’t have to resort to such measures to oust our peresent regime.

    …happy Chinese new year to all malaysians either by celebrating it or by enjoying the holidays that come with it.

    • #4 by Bunch of Suckers on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:19 am

      That’s what people for! The dictator or rot regime clings on powers without stepping down, only people powers can eradicate them…

      Hope our suckers in BN/UMNO would experience the same treatments if they keep sucking around for their own goods without caring about rakyat!

  4. #5 by tak tahan on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 9:36 am

    Oh genie the bottle,please grant us this scenario.Save us once as you have saved lots in the past.

  5. #6 by Dipoh Bous on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 9:38 am

    …”peresent” should be “present”, a typing error…

    • #7 by cemerlang on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:21 am

      edit, polish…why so many typo errors, spelling mistakes…peace on this day

  6. #8 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:19 am

    (Continuing) No one should underestimate the so called political savvies of BN to maintain power – it has successfully done so for more than ½ century using ballot box as to legitimize what its detractors view as mis-governance.

    One of the main advantages to it is Malaysian diverse ethnic, religious and cultural composition that helps a divide and rule policy learned from the British colonial masters. By a clever delineation of electoral boundaries favoring the majority race and playing both on their fears of the minorities as well providing the carrot of NEP and other patronage goodies it could retain support, if Tenang and the recent spate of by election success were any indication.
    Detractors have derided 1 Malaysia as a ploy to ameliorate Non Malay alienation. Even ex premier Tun Dr Mahathir has done so. From Najib’s view point why not? It gives something to MCA, MIC & Gerakan to hold on to and speak. Of course it also provides fodder for Opposition to lampoon the inconsistencies. But never mind. The salient fact is that if 1 Malaysia really works – and if Malaysians were really united in pluralism as one – then it also means its time for BN to go for a united rakyat might in one voice either in ballot box or the streets ask the political elites to give the next set of opposition politicians “a go” at better governance.

    But it does not happen here because everyone is not united: Malay/Muslims are divided between UMNO on one hand and PAS/PKR on the other; the Non malays are equally divided (say between Chinese that seem to trenchantly support opposition whereas Indian voters are swinging back to BN). Even amongst (say) the Chinese, their votes are split 3 ways between DAP, MCA & Gerakan with DAP holding most, which itself alienates other races from supporting the DAP! Even within Chinese based parties within BN there’s disunity. Chua Soi Lek is not only attacked by DAP’s Kit for lying about Chinese support, he is also attacked by his own party’s Ong Tee Keat for being ‘immoral’ (see The Malaysian Insider’s report by Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, February 02). Within PKR there are further disunities (the latest N. Gobalakrishnan) leading to many defections. East Malaysians are also not united with West Malaysians. The latter not only can’t go there to work because of the 20 & 18 point agreements but politically they are not happy with West Malaysian political dominance. It happens even in Opposition front in the case of PKR Sabah. Whereas West Malaysian urban constituencies look at governance issues, the rural ones in both Semenanjong & East Malaysia are still impressed with the lollies and developmental funding distributed out by BN in form of largesse during election. There lies another divide in what is important when vote is given!

  7. #9 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:21 am

    All these disunities play well into the ruling coalition’s divide and rule strategy. They don’t even worry that much that we would protest in Merdeka square because they know that the Chinese would not protest in the streets, so they need not manage the disaffected amongst Malays and Indians.

    The ruling coalition has devised the most sophisticated patronage system (both financial benefits and positions) probably ion the world. It could harness the national wealth, fund their election campaigns, provide a cover for political corruption, benefit all those holding key institutions to do their bidding and yet at the same time provide financial benefits to voters in exchange for electoral support. They control media, security apparatus and most other institutions of the state.

    They are savvy in this political game way ahead of the Opposition finding insumountable challenges in its aspiration to get to Putrajaya either via Ballot Box or the Streets!

  8. #10 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:23 am

    Oops typo omission – 1st para of #8 “… so they need ONLY manage the disaffected amongst Malays and Indians…”

  9. #11 by Saint on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:27 am

    “And in both 1977 and 1985 it refused direct orders to fire on Egyptian demonstrators. An oath taken by every soldier is that he will not shoot Egyptians.”

    This my friends is one of the main key to the success to the protest. What about our soldiers?
    Are they Muslim, Malay or Malaysian First? The 3M question.

  10. #12 by tak tahan on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:40 am

    Our soldiers will shoot themselves in their foots!They are a blind loyalist!

  11. #13 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:45 am

    don’t be too excited yet. the opposition is wanting to start an islamic country in egypt, like iran. whether this will be true or not, we never know. time will tell.

    where is anwar? can anwar be a diplomat to bring peace to egypt by bridging the opposition and mubarack?

  12. #14 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:47 am

    Though each and every case of protest is really about the political system and every misgoverning component part within, yet for the catalyst to galvanize popular protest there must be a focal point of hate and disaffection – usually a leader/dictator/strongman who overstayed who becomes a symbol of all that is wrong about the administration.

    Now Tunisia’s Ben Ali overstayed 23 years in power, Mubarak over 30 years!

    In our case TDM cleverly pushed it to limit of 22 years and then retired to play king maker from behind. Again we don’t have the focal point of long overstaying leader whose influence however continues!

    The present leader need only to worry about how to maintain economic growth to provide employment to all especially Malay youths so that they don’t protest on the streets. His dilemma is how to liberalise via the NEM and yet assuage vested interests clinging on to the NEP.

    The other challenge is how to appease the young educated in urban constituencies clamouring for transparent and accountable governments and abandonment of old hackneyed formula of divisive race policies.
    The crowds in Tunis and Cairo are authentic forces of democracy and have nothing to do with religious zeal or fanaticism. What is even more interesting is that these crowds do not have any ideology, apart from the fact that they want a change in the way they are governed. The crowds are young, they are techno-savvy and they use the Internet and SMS to mobilise.
    Our PM also cleverly addresses this segment of the techno savvy ICT generation. His people send sms happy CNY greetings. Our Mr Kee protests in vain about the “spamming” but too bad our Personal Data Protection Act 2010 exempts government from using the data.
    That’s another measure of how savvy the political elites of the ruling coalition have been: they are ingenious where and how to push the right buttons to maintain their power. They try forestall dissatisfaction by relenting to form a Royal Commission for TBH without allowing civil society to play a part in nomination of commissioners. They could even get the weather – rain in Tenang – to help by selective mobilization of transportation for FELDA supporters. They could leverage effectively the lack of norm within a monocultural civil service to be politically neutral or the lack of understanding of the differentiation between government resources funded from tax payers money and party’s resources. The latter are also abundant because way back they have corporatised and used these as vehicles to harness national resources to raise funds or maintenance of power. They could raise the money to engage expensive international consultancy firms to boost their political image.

    People underestimate the savviness of our political elites at their own peril.

  13. #15 by tak tahan on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:54 am

    Get rid of Mubarak first and why bother to bridge the gap when we don’t need the most undesired corrupted regime.Nib the sore one first!

  14. #16 by drago2008 on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 11:46 am

    Just like to know. Has any of our soldiers made a pledge not to shoot the Malaysian people – Malays, Dayak, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs, Eurasians, and others?

  15. #17 by Loh on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 1:23 pm

    Mahathir’s words

    By Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on February 3, 2011 12:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

    **Saya ucapkan Selamat Menyambut Tahun Baru Cina kepada semua rakyat Malaysia terutamanya kepada pembaca blog saya ini. Gong Xi Fa Cai**

    ///1. It looks like the Arab countries are experiencing some kind of revolution. Apparently the people are not happy with the leadership of their largely authoritarian Governments. Equally obviously they want a change of Governments or the leaders.

    2. The revolution has succeeded in Tunisia. Now we are seeing upheavals in Egypt.///–Mamakthir

    There was no revolution inTunisia. The people rose against the government when they had evidence that Tunisan government was corrupt. Back home, even with the information that some 888 billion ringgit had been siphoned off to overseas by people whose only economic capability was political connection, the son of the worst corrupted opportunist in Malaysian history dared to argue that there was no need for government to investigate the report.. Clearly he tries to prevent confirmation that the family had a huge share in the exported wealth.

    The only reason why there is no upheaval in Malaysia despite the knowledge of legalized corruption is because the people in Malaysia are polarized by race and religion, and the dominant community had been made to believe that they should be united against the minority communities to survive. Those in power could only retain their power when the people continue to be divided and that is why Mamakthir is earnestly repeating what he had done in 1969 to claim that Malaysia belongs to Malays, much against Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan. It becomes clear now that he is reacting to what happened in the Middle East; to avoid investigation. Should there be riots on race and religious ground, Mamakthir had the experience to benefit once again.

    ///3. Should these revolutions succeed there would be new Governments. But it is worthwhile to remember that change is not always for the better. It is incumbent upon those bent on effecting change to have some idea about the kind of Governments they want. Otherwise they may get the same kind of Governments that they try so hard to be rid off. This is because most leaders upon achieving power would change and would forget the struggles and sacrifices which enabled them to be in power. Power corrupts as we all know. ///–Mamakthir

    When the government is at the rock bottom, like the case in Malaysia, the only change is on the way up. The thousand meters’ journey from the bottom begins with the first step, upwards. Even a new government walks the route of corruption those with experience knew better how to cover their track. The new government will take time to be equally corrupted, if only it is allowed to.
    ///4. Perhaps in order to avoid a new dictatorship from emerging, democracy would be chosen. A democratic leader can be changed merely through voting. ///–Mamakthir

    The position of power, such as the UMNO president should not serve more than a number of terms. Human weakness cannot be eliminated, and the worst example of human talked about the wrong of his successors as though the rotes began after his term while he was the one who initiated all the legalized corrupt practices; APs system where his sons were chosen as beneficiaries is a classic example.

    ///5. But the system can be abused. Either the elected leader would fix elections to perpetuate his office or there would be a series of ineffective Governments as the people reject each one with their votes. This will cause instability. The country would be no better.///– Mamakthir

    Only those corrupted people will try to discourage others to act against leaders of the same kind in other countries. Human weakness can never be changed. Americans have political opportunists too. US government is relatively more effective than Malaysia and most Middle East countries because its government institutions serve their intended purposes. Malaysia is in deep shit because Mamakthir destroyed all the government institutions in the country. Yet he tries to sing the virtue of stability. Egypt had one president for 30 years, and that was stable enough. But there cannot be peace and smooth change of government when there is no democracy.

    ///6. To avoid this the electorate must not allow themselves to be manipulated. They must exercise their voting rights judiciously. But this would be something new to them and they may not be skilled enough in exercising their power to choose.///

    Only political opportunists who are used to manipulate the citizens into polarization would know that election results could be manipulated. General elections in Malaysia have gone into 12 rounds and yet manipulation by UMNO continues.

    ///7. I will not presume to know all the needs of the countries concerned, much less to provide solutions.

    8. Whatever, the new Governments must never forget the people who so courageously rose against the previous Governments. They had done so because they expect a better Government which will care for the people. I am told that high unemployment rate is one of the major causes. This problem must be given priority or the same fate will be met by the new Government. This will require better management of the economy, in particular the creation of more jobs.

    9. Corruption in the administration must be reduced. Drastic measures will be needed. For this the most important thing is for the new ruling elites, particularly the leader, however chosen to demonstrate that they are not corrupt. ///–Mamakthir

    It is the demonstration of not being corrupt, but not the act of incorruptible which counts according to the Maha-corrupt. Unless politicians are devoted to serve the country when elected, they can be easily tempted. Much more so when one could create wealth through corruption with impunity, like in Malaysia.

    ///10. The skills in administration must be upgraded so that Government would be able to deliver on promises of better governance. ///–Mamakthir

    The most skillful administration is the Malaysian civil service whose personnel have almost purely in practicing only one religion. They cover up for one another even to the extent of creating the impression that one witness who fell to his death with pre-fall injuries could have committed suicide. The motto of that Services is opportunity for corruption ought to be shared, albeit unequally. But all of them are motivated with having easy access to corrupted wealth.

    ///11. I feel sad that not a single Muslim country is classified as developed. Almost invariably it is due to Government incompetence. We see some hope in the progress made by Turkey. But even Turkey is far from being a developed country.///–Mamakthir

    It seems that the person cannot help himself in confining his thinking within race or religion. Was that an exercise to show that he cares about religion more than his wealth?

    ///12. There will be some Muslims who will say that being developed is not important to Islam. What is important is to be Islamic according to their interpretation of the teachings of Islam.

    13. This is fallacious. We know that the reason for the oppression of Muslim countries and discrimination against Muslims that we see today is because they are underdeveloped and weak. They are labeled as terrorists. They have no capacity to protect themselves. They are forever dependent on aid, usually by the powerful countries. And when powerful countries give aid, it is not free. They have to toe the line determined by the donors.///–Mamakthir

    We have a person who makes seditious statement and gets away Scot free. That is because he is strong, politically. So the logic of bully is right underpins all his thought. It is unfair that the true terrorist instigator is treated like a savior of his adopted race while others who created act of violence could not be called ‘freedom fighters’, so it seems. Mankind at this age is still manipulated by the so-called leaders who chose to exhibit their love for the religion to kill innocent people. Can there be a better description of their actions?

    ///14. Does Islam teach us to be weak and poor, to be beggars incapable of defending ourselves? Certainly not. Therefore in striving to become a developed country we are not going against the teachings of Islam. Indeed what we will be doing is to restore the good image of Islam and to counter the propaganda that Islam is the cause of the poverty and incompetence of Muslims. To defend Islam and the Muslims, to regain respect for the religion cannot be against the teachings of Islam.///–Mamakthir

    If one follows the teaching of religion, any religion at all, which advocates that human beings should behave like a true human being who possess humane characteristics, the success or failure of the government managed by human cannot be assigned to the teaching of any religion at all. But then how can religion be utilized to advantage for human manuveours?

    ///15. I hope and pray that those who replace the displaced Governments will govern their countries well and much good will come from the sacrifices made by the demonstrators. ///–Mamakthir

    In Malaysia if the chief perpetrator of racial polarization would only stop his further acts of seditions Tunku will certainly be truly resting in peace.

  16. #18 by Thor on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 1:24 pm

    Hope our suckers in BN/UMNO would experience the same treatments if they keep sucking around for their own goods without caring about rakyat!- by Bunch of suckers

    It won’t happen here and I bet you that!
    Unlike Eygpt,Tunisia and the rest of the country, we’ve three major races here.
    The Chinese are selfish and kiasu.
    The urban malays are loyal to their religion and race and are willing to “die” for Umno because they are brainwashed by Umno from the start as they thought that Umno is their saviour.
    And the indians are far more worse as most of them are just a sort like Hindraf fellas.
    Another word is that we’re not united and we never will be, not by this generation.

  17. #19 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 1:45 pm

    Eygptians shld count their blessings n luck being ruled by Mubarak n NOT by NR, RM n UmnoB/BN

  18. #20 by DAP man on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 2:09 pm

    Why did kit post this article in his blog? No, he is not instigating a similar uprising here because he knows that it will not happen in Malaysia.

    This is a racially divided nation. The unity we see is just a facade. The Malays, with government jobs, quotas, contacts, free education and health care and handouts are quite happy. They accept corruption as normal (biasa lah). Judicial independence is not their forte.
    University graduates are happy selling stamps in the Post Office or working as receptionists.
    Why do they want an uprising?

    The Chinese being a hardy race can survive no matter where you put them. They are survivors and a hard-working race. Despite institutionalized discrimination they are still well off.
    Why do they want an uprising?

    The Indians, neglected and humiliated are too small in numbers to fight back. They tried once (Hindraf) and the government bought them for a pittance and split them into impotent groups. Many land up in police lock ups and prisons.

    Sabah and Sarawak do not consider the Peninsular as part of “their country.”

    So what have we? All the trappings of an Egyptian regime but nay an uprising.

    Defeat UMNO in the ballot box. UMNO is the evil and a recipe for national disintegration and destruction.

  19. #21 by tak tahan on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 3:06 pm

    University graduates are happy selling stamps in the Post Office or working as receptionists. by DAP man

    Is it true?Oh Ya,i forgot our friend selling rambutan on the road side without stall permit.Happy as he seems.Poor fella.Are the tong sampah man also graduates?Wow..more or lest like Eygptians’s graduates peddling merchandise on the road side.proudvo bravo!!

  20. #22 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 4:10 pm

    “This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu but this cannot be said because it will be considered racist. We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu.”
    So said racist MMK, 4 himself n on behalf of UmnoB, NR, RM, MY, HH, etc
    What say U, MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PSB, etc?

  21. #23 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 4:14 pm

    Poor Sabahans n Sarawakians, kena cheated by UmnoB
    Joined M’sia n now both states belong 2 Malays n must accept Malays as d master race
    Sabahans n Sarawakians still happily support UmnoB/BN, what lah!

  22. #24 by tak tahan on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 5:34 pm

  23. #25 by Godfather on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 7:39 pm

    For over 30 years, Mamakthir played Jekyll and Hyde with the Malaysian public. Now he has finally proven to be nothing more than a racist bigot who had an axe to grind against the Chinese due to his experiences at the University of Malaya in Singapore.

    It is distressing to note at this festive occasion that the champions of a superior race or ketuanan come from the descendants of the very races that they seek to subdue – Mamakthir being the grandson of an Indian immigrant and Ridhuan Tee being the son of a Chinese immigrant.

  24. #26 by Godfather on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 7:46 pm

    Who gave the approval for MMC to corner the tin market and resulted in hundreds of millions of losses ? Mamakthir

    Who gave the approval for Bank Negara to speculate on foreign currencies resulting in billions of losses ? Mamakthir

    Who gave the approval for the PKFZ project resulting in billions of losses ? Mamakthir

    Who gave the approval for the setting up of Renong Group which ultimately had to be bailed out by the government ? Mamakthir

    Who gave the approval to privatise electricity generation that resulted in so many fat cats being created at the expense of others ? Mamakthir

    Who singledhandedly corrupted the judiciary and approved the fabrication of evidence against Anwar ? Mamakthir

    Who tried to create 100 millionaires, but ended up creating nothing of benefit to the country ? Mamakthir

    Who started the AP business that cost the country billions in lost revenues ? Mamakthir

    Who subsidised up to RM 25 billion of a loss making car venture that is still losing money ? Mamakthir

    Who is the father of cronyism and nepotism in Bolehland ? Mamakthir

    The guy is simply a criminal.

  25. #27 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 8:56 pm

    ///We are all happy and we are proud to be here///-Ahdaf Soueif

    It is an understandable feeling. For a moment one who is there feels he could do something and play a part to remove the government or a dictator. The influence of politics is ubiquitous. It affects many aspects of one’s life. It impinges on one’s freedom of actions.

    A quote attributed to Edmund Burke is “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Any good man who tries to do something alone gets quashed. United with hundreds of thousands or a million in Tahrir Square he could do something to make even the strongest dictator bow. It is of course a good feeling, a moment to be savored.

    But it’s an opportunity that does not occur everyday. There must be that catalyst in unique combination with other circumstances and events that bring events to that flash point.

    To be sure many people around the world empathise with the Egyptian protestors’ cause. They are not just people living in semi-democratic places like here under the yoke of communal political ideology or worse still in countries like Myanmar under a yoke of dictatorship and oppression, who feel it more poignantly for daily having to put up with censorship, rigged elections, secret police, repression and other manifestations of a totalitarian state.

    Even in the supposedly free democracies and stable societies – there is this gnawing sense of mistrust, cynicism, a loss of confidence in big government and business.

    There reasons for this. First the people are told they are possessed of the power to choose and define their lives by choice of politicians via the ballot box. Time and again they are disappointed. They find that is not true. They remove one set of politicians to be confronted with another set abusing the public trust and position in another way.

    People nowadays are relatively more educated than yesteryears. The Internet disseminates knowledge and provides the avenue for the like-minded to touch base.

    Besides there is a surge in ordinary people’s expectations as regards everything from demands of more transparent honest and sincere governance from the elected officials to a higher standard of living, and a means to mitigate the ravage inflation. Deprivation is relative and discontent is almost always caused by disappointed expectations arising from the fact that human nature – at least that of politicians – never change. They would always seize an unfair advantage from using their position of influence and power.

  26. #28 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 9:00 pm

    (Continuing) Even in the United States where elections are free and civil liberties reign they are wondering why is their government supporting Mubarak for decades – for Democracy or the Suez Canal and vital ship lanes? Just like the war with Saddam Iraq – was it to remove weapons of mass destruction (where none was found) or protection of US energy interest, oil pipe line or Halliburton’s construction business??? Julian Assange’s Wikileaks whistle blowing on what goes on behind the scenes does not help in building confidence of the ordinary citizen.

    There is a thus a growing feeling of both mistrust and impotence and powerlessness in relation to government and people in power even amongst people everywhere including in the so called developed democracies. One feels he is being told and fed lies and lies and sees hypocrisy and corruption everywhere but (alone) cannot do a thing abut it .

    Many then live lives of quiet desperation; others just don’t care: they (even the educated) don’t even bother to vote. They just get on with their lives as best as possible with little to do with the government as possible.

    At worst politics is oppressive in 3rd world because of incompetent and corrupt political leadership.

    In the developed first world where political leadership is supposedly more responsible in use of power due to institutional check and balance, it is best boring. There is a failure to inspire. Obama was exciting in the beginning, and then afterwards it gets boring. He could not even take the moral side in people versus Mubarak. (Perhaps it takes a war or a time of great national danger for leadership to inspire – as did Churchill in World War II or JF Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis when the world was at a brink of a nuclear war).

    So it is really understandable why when Egyptians have their moment to now stand and rally against the all omnipotent government (with the armed forces not firing upon them, like they did in Tiananmen Square) and have a real wrestling match, the protesters and spectators at Tahrir Square feel exhilarated – and the rest of the world, who feel equally frustrated with and impotent against their own governments and politicians, vicariously empathize and stand in solidarity with them, hoping after Tunisia and Egypt Yemen will be next.

  27. #29 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 9:09 pm

    Who al;so has that frequent condescending and supercilious smirk in his face (masquerading as a friendly smile) to mark an inner belief that all before him who listen are not half as smart as him???

    No prize for the right answer.

  28. #30 by monsterball on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:07 pm

    The event is so alike in the Philippines.
    In the end…People’s Power won over tanks and guns…and Marcos and his band of robbers and thieves and had to leave the country to Honolulu….advised by US Govt..under self imposed exile and protection by the said US Govt.
    Will the US Govt. ..do the right thing for Egyptians?
    This is the start of two Middle East countries wanting total freedom.
    Yes..US Govt is on center stage with countries all over the world…what kind of world policeman are they now.
    Same like before..with double standards or totally sincere towards “CHANGE”…promised by Obama.

  29. #31 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 10:16 pm

    Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen showed us dat democracy has been abused by dictators 2 hold on 2 power
    At d end, ppl hv 2 take back d raw power, people’s power n revolution
    At d end, it’s an economic battle between d haves n d have nots (exploited by d haves)
    We r marching along dis direction, d battle between d super rich Malays n poor Malays
    Meanwhile, racist n exploiter MMK just wants 2 twist it as a battle between Malays n nonMalays, so dat he n his children n UmnoB cronies + running K9 continue 2 enrich themselves

  30. #32 by tak tahan on Thursday, 3 February 2011 - 11:39 pm

    He stung them long enough with his venom and he wants them to accompany him to his and theirs maker.He is trying hard to scare them agaisnt Chinese community so he hopes they will cling on to BN and with that accomplished he will die here in peace knowing his sons,daughters and grand childrens will live luxuriously under his yak pui legacy.Very cunning fox.Evil heart with human face.

  31. #33 by Godfather on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 8:25 am


    Know what Najib will do ? He will call CSL, KTK and Palanivel and tell them that he disagrees with Mamakthir. Then he will call Ibrahim Katak and other right-wingers and tell them that he agrees with Mamakthir. This is what the leader of this country is all about – cowardice and not willing to do the right thing.

    Evil has a face, and it’s that of Mullah Mamakthir. The leaders of the minority parties allow this evil to continue and they will sell their children’s souls for the crumbs that UMNO throws at their feet.

  32. #34 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 8:48 am

    Jeffrey :
    (That’s why we pressure Myanmar junta to have free elections and honour their results).
    What happened in Tunisia & Egypt is that the ballot box is not necessary equal to good governance.
    Egypt too held parliamentary elections in November last year. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party won 95% of the seats. In 2005, he had won the presidential elections by 88.6%!

    Electing any government (even assuming it is a fair and free election) does not automatically lead to good governance. You need competence and integrity of those in power.

    However, in the case of Egypt, the elections were not even free and fair to begin with. The government decides who can stand for election. And the elections were not monitored by indepenent international bodies.

    So what Mubarak won by 95%? In fact, such ridiculously high-percentage landslide victory should automatically trigger off vote-rigging suspicion. What about Saddam Hussien who won by 98% and Kim Jong Il who won by 99.99%?


  33. #35 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 8:58 am

    Just to add, if anyone believes the 95% victory in the Egyptian elections is representative of the Egyptian people, then he ought to have his head examined.

    Take a look closer to home. Despite all the gerrymendering, despite the postal votes, despite the “lu tolong gua, gua tolong lu”, despites the brown envelops stuffed with cash, and despite all the shenanigans, the ruling party in Malaysia lost is two-third majority.

    And you think 95% is authentic?

  34. #36 by Jeffrey on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 8:59 am

    Yemen is set to follow the precedent set by Tunisia and Egypt. Maybe Algeria will be next domino after Yemen.

    Though mis-governance is basic reason, it can only activate widespread protests if some groups first take the lead to protest in the streets and by their actions draw other segment of the disgruntled and angry crowd.

    The lead is usually taken by the youths, especially students. They are young and idealistic and protest against corruption.

    There must be widespread corruption as a pre-condition. Corruption within government per se is however not enough. It must be represented by a focal point of a long staying leader who has visibly amassed wealth for himself and his family and his therefore hated.

    Protests by techno-savvy Youths and Students mobilized by sms/cellphones, Facebook, MySpace, protest – are easier galvanized if the other pre-condition exists: educated but unemployed.

    The protests themselves cannot achieve critical mass unless they are joined by the masses. For masses to get out of their inertia there must exist tough economic conditions with high inflation and in particular sharp increases in the price of food compounded by rampant unemployment;

    Here the races might be divided but tough economic conditions might still just unite all. In terms of governance or misgovernance, it is more the bread and butter issues than corruption issues per se that cause the masses to rise in protest!

    This is what the government here seeks most to avert. It uses our considerable wealth from its oil and gas exports to tackle social and economic complaints with a huge public spending programme. The benefit of this must percolate down. If it were confined to the benefit of a few party stalwarts or cronies, it’s no use.

    Also there must be a flashpoint of outrage. It need not be a long staying leader. (As I said we don’t have one now that TDM has cleverly stepped down after 22 years to avoid being focus of popular ire. He now contributes to political system maintenance by distracting the disgruntled amongst the Malays by re-focusing on “Tanah Melayu” etc). It could also be sense of outrage from a popular leader – a Malay- being perceived victimized and cruelly mistreated. (As I earlier said we don’t expect Chinese masses take to the street and its unlikely Malay masses would do so if the victim were a Non Malay). Stirrings of this was seen in the 10,000 strong reformasi protests when Anwar was first unceremoniously dumped and then incarcerated and beaten in Sodomy 1. How sodomy II will act out remains to be seen.

    To preempt such protest the ruling elites here try to withdraw subsidies gradually in stages and mitigating its effects : eg rise in fuel prices tampered by withdrawal of some toll charges; pump more money into the system, continue to push NEP by absorbing Malay youths to prevent unemployment. The government here is not taking chances.

  35. #37 by Thor on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 9:08 am

    Defeat UMNO in the ballot box. UMNO is the evil and a recipe for national disintegration and destruction.- by DAP man

    For BN component parties to betray UmnoBN is really impossible because a puppet cannot even “fart” without its master.
    Asking pakatan fellas to desert its own party is much more easier.
    As for defeating those UmnoBN buggers by ballot boxes will be truly difficult as bribery and fraud are the main concern.
    If Pakatan needs to win, they have to find an effective way to win the heart of Sabahan and Sarawakian first.
    You need to “drive a stake into a vampire’s heart to kill it” and those two eastern states
    are UmnoBN’s “heart”.

  36. #38 by yhsiew on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 9:10 am

    After 30 years of Mubarak rule, finally the Egyptians want change. It is a strong message to UMNO/BN. I wonder how many Malaysians want 30 years of Najib rule (including his admirers and deserters). A leader must not overstay his welcome – even Tun Dr. M. knew this principle and voluntarily stepped down after twenty odd years in power. In fact in some countries, the post of presidency is only limited to 2 or 3 terms (e.g. Philippines, Brazil and Russia).

    One thing which boggles my mind: Why is it so difficult for leaders of third world countries to give up power? Whereas, change of government in developed countries (e.g. Japan, Australia, Britain etc.) is as normal as drinking coffee.

    • #39 by cemerlang on Monday, 7 February 2011 - 9:34 pm

      Because power is sweet. With power, you can do anything you like according to your whims and fancies and you can cook up any story just so that you will have your way. Because you cannot trust the next person since you think that you are the best the world has. Because you want the support of the few who know your weaknesses beside your strength. Because these cronies and these neopotists will help in your ladder of success. Until the people know what is right and brave enough to do what is right, there will be little or no change. Real change comes when there is the courage to go against all odds to do the right thing. If not, it will be just another lip service preaching sermon which anyone can do too. Oh because of face too. Because of being ashamed too. Because of tradition too.

  37. #40 by Thor on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 10:30 am

    A leader must not overstay his welcome – even Tun Dr. M. knew this principle and voluntarily stepped down after twenty odd years in power. – by yhsiew

    You got it all wrong, yhsiew!
    Dat Mamak e..d..iot did not voluntarily stepped down but was “pushed out” by his own gang for overstaying.
    Why give him such an honour?

    Another question from you is:
    Why is it so difficult for leaders of third world countries to give up power?
    It’s all in our common sense.
    It’s all about greed!
    No need to boggles your mind at all.

    As for those Egyptians who cried, “Irhal! Irhal!” (Leave! Leave!) to Mubarak.
    I’ll be crying, “Puck off! Puck off!” (#%*$*! #%*$*!) to jibby and gang here.

  38. #41 by limkamput on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 11:25 am

    We know the abuses committed by ruling elites are everywhere. That is why we need strong democratic institutions to ensure that there are chances for peaceful transition of power through the ballot boxes. The problem with many third countries (Malaysia included) is that the democratic form of government is thrust into them when most of them are not ready for it. And once these “in name only” democratic governments are in power, they have never tried to develop the institutions or the people. The ruling elites see the opportunity and exploit it to the maximum. It happens here and it happens elsewhere, endlessly if we follow the events unfolding every few years. To move forward, there are really two alternatives: one, we have the enlightened despot like Singapore and two we must really educate and disseminate information to our people. Only politicians would say that the people in general are enlightened and know who to elect to represent them. But we know most of them are making political correct statements. Most Malaysians including the so-called educated ones are gullible, stupid and ignorant. How then could we explain the relative success of con schemes so blatantly practised in this country? Of course there are those who are in the know, but these people would only be interested in the scum fallen from the table or they themselves would be contesting for power to eventually do the same to the people. If power is secured illegally and unconstitutionally, that power eventually can only be dethroned through force. Look at Thailand, the difference between the red shirts and the yellow shirts is one has the support of the army, the other none. That power in Thailand eventually has to be settled through the street, not ballot boxes because the power was never obtained legally and constitutionally. I have lost faith in pseudo democracy. I am waiting for that enlightened despot to emerge in Malaysia. Anyone with better ideas please let me know.

  39. #42 by dawsheng on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Egypt is just the tip of the iceberg.

  40. #43 by k1980 on Friday, 4 February 2011 - 1:45 pm


    The 1% increase in service tax at the beginning of this year is not limited to just the food and drinks industry, it also includes accountancy, legal, architectural, and certain medical services.

    How many of the rakyat actually know of this 1% increase in service tax ?

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